Molluscum contagiosum is a virus that causes small pearly or flesh-colored bumps on the skin. The bumps may or may not be visible, and the centre is frequently indented. Although the virus is easily transmitted, it is not harmful.
The small, round, indented bumps range in size from 3 to 5 mm in diameter (a little smaller than a pencil eraser). The bumps are not painful. They can appear individually or in groups. The trunk, face, eyelids, and genital area are the most common places where they can be found. Bumps on the trunk, face, and arms are common in children. The bumps are usually found in the genital area in sexually active teenagers and young adults. As part of the body’s natural immune system response to the virus, the bumps may become inflamed and turn red.
The incubation period (the time between being exposed to the virus and the appearance of the bumps) is usually 2 to 7 weeks, but it can last up to 6 months.
Symptoms of molluscum contagiosum are more severe in people who have a compromised immune system, such as those who have HIV infection.